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U.S. housing starts unexpectedly climb in October

BY HBSDEALER Staff

U.S. housing starts unexpectedly rose 3 percent in October — the biggest gain in eight months, the Commerce Department reported. The jump was attributed to increased activity in the condominium market, which offset the weakest construction of single-family homes since 1991.

Builders broke ground on 1.229 million homes last month. Construction of single-family homes dropped 7.3 percent, while multi-family home construction jumped 44 percent.

In addition, building permits were down 6.6 percent to 1.178 million, the lowest level in 14 years and below the 1.2 million units economists had projected.

Home construction will drop at a 22 percent annual pace this quarter, the most since the last three months of 1981, according to a forecast by economists at Lehman Brothers Holdings.

Further, foreclosures doubled in September from a year earlier as subprime borrowers struggled to make payments on adjustable-rate mortgages, RealtyTrac said last month.

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Edward Hines Lumber names new CEO

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based Edward Hines Lumber has appointed Gerald R. Wille, vp- operations, as president and CEO effective immediately.

Wille, 64, has been with the company for 31 years and will succeed Edward Hines, who was elected chairman of the board.

“Gerry has been an integral part of the Hines management team for the better part of three decades,” said Hines, adding, “Gerry is tremendously qualified and deserving of this promotion.”

Edward Hines Lumber is one of the Chicago area’s largest lumber and building supply companies, with lumberyards throughout Illinois and Indiana.

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Realtors’ conference addresses growing ‘green’ trend

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home buyers want to be green, but they don’t necessarily want to fork over extra money for energy-efficient features when purchasing a home.

This was one of the themes discussed at the “Greening for Dollars: The Business Benefits of Green Building” session at the National Association of Realtors 2007 Realtors Conference & Expo, held Nov. 13 to 16 in Las Vegas.

Panel participants were John Stovall, vp-business development for EcoBroker International; Janet Rosenberg, owner and principal broker of Intero Real Estate Services; and Daniele Loffreda of Plateau Enviro Associates and U.S. Green Building Council residential green building advocate.

Citing data from the National Association of Home Builders, Loffreda explained that the green homes market is expected to increase to 10 percent by 2010.

“There is a growing awareness and acceptance of the importance of energy efficiency among homeowners, but much confusion about the broader category of ‘green homes,’ ” Loffreda said.

“In the past few years, consumers have been bombarded by the marketing messages of companies jumping on the green-friendly bandwagon,” said moderator Suzanne Shelton, CEO of the Shelton Group, which introduced consumer research related to green building trends from recent focus groups and surveys. “People are becoming much more inquiring about the bill of green goods being sold to them — not only in terms of ‘is it as green as what they say it is,’ but also ‘does it matter enough to me to pay extra?’ ”

According to the 2007 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences, a significant majority of new home buyers — 65 percent — think their home’s energy efficiency is a very important consideration. Buyers who placed a priority on energy efficiency were also more likely to value other environment-friendly features, such as proximity to parks and public transportation, and existence of sidewalks in the neighborhood.

“As green building issues become more important to buyers, sellers and businesses, more and more realtors are adding value to the real estate transaction by developing green business practices,” said NAR 2007 president Pat Combs.

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